Five years ago, the UIA secured funding to scale completion grants across our network. Georgia State was an early pioneer of completion grants, micro-grants awarded to students facing a financial hurdle that prevents them from registering for classes in the final few semesters of their academic experience. Rather than losing a likely graduate, GSU simply places the necessary funds (less than $1,000) in the student’s account to ensure they can register for classes. For years, we had heard and seen wonderful examples of success from Georgia State’s program, and thankfully Ascendium Education Group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation teamed up to support replicating and learning from this model at an array of institutions across the country. We learned really important lessons about how to implement this innovative intervention and 5,000 students across 11 campuses benefited from our teamwork.
Last fall, we released our Completion Grants Playbook featuring key insights from our project and examples of how universities removed minor financial barriers that were causing outsized harm. Today, I want to share the most exciting thing that has happened as a result. When the UIA added our first new campuses, we were able to provide grant funding and the playbook to help them scale up completion grants. One of those campuses – North Carolina A&T – mobilized at warp speed to implement completion grants in two months! We’d never seen an institution move that quickly to take an outside idea and implement it with fidelity to impact students, but NC A&T managed to use a small amount of funding ($50,000) and the project playbook to identify internal matching resources and award 55 completion grants in the span of two meetings. For us, this validated our confidence that playbooks can work! Our goal all along was to make innovation easier and faster for other institutions that want to do the brave and bold work necessary for student success. This important milestone with NC A&T helped us learn how to support others in scaling what we learn, and also showed us that we shouldn’t overestimate the time it takes to implement new ideas. When there’s real need, change can happen quickly.
This month we are hosting a webinar with the Chronicle of Higher Education about innovating financial aid strategies. In that conversation, we will discuss completion grants, emergency aid, and key tactics that can help any institution be more innovative in how they prevent financial hardships from impeding student attainment. Please join us to learn about our experiences and share your own!
Calling All Innovators to Join us in the Lab!
Are you a senior-level leader looking for professional development tools and guides to help you kick-start innovation on your campus? Want to hear more from UIA members? Join the waitlist for the University Innovation Lab, our hub for curated resources and connections to advance your student success work.
We’re looking for a core group of leaders outside of the UIA who are willing to subscribe and explore our beta launch with us this fall. It’s just $49/month for downloadable resources, templates, recorded trainings, courses, and subscriber-only events featuring UIA members. Sign up now! Questions? Email us here. We’d love to hear from you!
This Week at the UIA
On Thursday, September 29th, we are hosting a webinar about the future of financial aid with the Chronicle of Higher Education featuring the a dynamic collection of experts:
- Tim Renick, Georgia State University
- Jessica Rowland Williams, Every Learner Everywhere
- Sharon Perry Fantini, Iowa State University
- Kim Cook, National College Access Network
- Jill Desjean, NASFAA
Be sure to register to join the conversation!
We know your time is limited. That's why each issue, we'll choose THE BEST things we watched, listened to, or read.
- Reflecting on the state of Latinx Learners in the wake of Covid (New America)
- Haven't applied for PSLF yet? Watch this helpful webinar from the Kresge Foundation!
- Completion grants being scaled throughout Georgia with state support (Metro Atlanta)
- Report: Ending the monolithic view of underrepresented students (Every Learner Everywhere)
- Congratulations to the 6 intermediaries for the Gates Foundation!
Stuff We Love
- This lower back travel pillow is ESSENTIAL for travel
- My favorite portable standing desk
- Small portable whiteboard for your office
- Have you tried one of these cross legged chairs?
- An even smaller treadmill for under desk
- This helps you look people in the eye on zoom
- Headphone eye pillow for sleep & meditation
"In an economic recession, by being that community partner responding to what needs to be done, we're helping to drive what needs to be done."